WE LIVE IN A MEDIA-DRIVEN AGE in which we’re increasingly led to believe that fast is good, that hectic is to be applauded and that we ‘don’t have time’ for all those small things in life. Our gardening, too, has been contaminated by this frantic drive to pack more into life than is perhaps really good for us. In recent years, television makeover programmes have been widely praised for encouraging more of us to take up gardening but, for me at least, they are a double-edged sword. The idea of the ‘instant’ garden is a fundamentally misleading one – it just happens to work well on television. It’s true, you can go out and buy all you need to quickly stick together a garden in a weekend, but creating and nurturing a garden is another matter. I’m amused – if slightly alarmed – to see a flurry of books about gardening with speed and even impatience as their central themes. You simply can’t hurry gardening – or nature – along, so there’s little point in being impatient with it.
One of those ‘small things’ in any gardener’s life that remains constant is what to do about those plants that you’d rather not have growing in your beds, borders, lawns, paths and drives or among your vegetables, herbs and fruits. These unwanted plants are, of course, what we call ‘weeds’. The modern quick fix for dealing with weeds is to use chemical weedkillers. It’s certainly a tempting solution: all you need do is apply them to the weeds and they shrivel and die. I’ve used weedkillers myself in the past and have seen how apparently ‘effective’ some are.
“I believe that our gardens are the perfect and most natural places to begin doing our bit both to ease the strain we are putting on the earth and to reverse some of the damage already done.”
All around us, evidence that we are damaging our environment continues to mount. We now talk glibly of the ‘greenhouse effect’ as if it were just part and parcel of everyday life, rather than a serious threat to the earth’s future. But what, you must be thinking, has any of this got to do with weeds? Well, I believe that our gardens are the perfect and most natural places to begin doing our bit both to ease the strain we are putting on the earth and to reverse some of the damage already done – hence this is an earth-friendly guide to tackling weeds.
“I hope that this book will show you weeds in a new light.”
Organic gardening is all about working with, rather than against, nature. Uprooting a weed, rather than spraying it with some synthetic chemical weedkiller, might not strike you as a profound gesture we gardeners can make to ‘save the planet’, but imagine if hundreds, thousands or millions of gardeners did it: that’s an awful lot of weeds and a mighty amount of weedkiller staying put in its bottle. So this isn’t a book full of lists of weeds and which chemical to put on them. In fact, it isn’t solely about getting rid of weeds, although identification of some of the commonest garden weeds and how to deal with them make up the largest section of the book. In part, you could see it as a celebration of weeds.
“Organic gardening is all about working with, rather than against, nature.”
I hope that this book will show you weeds in a new light, encourage you to think about them differently, and, perhaps most importantly, help you deal gently yet effectively with those weeds you don’t want, in a way that is kind to the earth. It might also – dare I say it – actually persuade you to leave some weeds well alone, or even encourage them in your garden.
• Find out here how the book helps you to identify 60 garden weeds and decide how easy, difficult or urgent dealing with each one is.